Apple Music Launch Day

The world’s largest company debuted its new music streaming service Tuesday in an attempt to restore its title as the global leader in digital music. Dubbed Apple Music, the service is the tech giant’s first foray into music streaming, a crowded space already occupied by Rdio, Pandora, Google Play, Tidal and Spotify, the current leader in subscription-based music streaming. The launch comes in conjunction with the latest update to Apple’s popular mobile operating system, iOS 8.4. To draw in users, Apple is offering the service for free for the first three months, after which a $9.99 per month subscription fee will kick in. In order to start streaming, users will have to upgrade to iOS 8.4 on Apple mobile devices, or upgrade to the latest version of iTunes to get the service on PCs.

In an attempt to grow its subscriber-base quickly, Apple has jammed in a lot of features into Apple Music, including most features available on other services. For new users, the landscape within the service can be a little overwhelming, and the Apple personal digital assistant Siri can help guide them. You can ask Siri to find a specific song, or songs by a particular artist, or ask for music from a particular genre or even the top songs fro a genre, which will pull up tracks from the iTunes charts.

Apple Music will also scan the music on your device, matching them up with tracks from the iTunes catalog. You’ll then have access to all those songs that appear in the Apple catalog on the iCloud Music Library, meaning you can access them from any device as long as you’re logged in to Apple Music. Just don’t delete your original files, because the iCloud feature isn’t a backup method. If you delete your files, you will lose access to them as soon as your subscription lapses. It will remember the tracks should you unsubscribe for a month or two and sign back up, however.

As with any streaming service, the biggest downside to Apple Music is that you can’t access the service without an Internet connection, and use on mobile devices can eat away at your data limits. Apple Music lets you download copies of songs for offline play, however, so you can still listen to your favorite tunes even when you travel beyond a wireless signal. At present, there is no limit to how many songs can be stored this way.